Election 2020

Ex-Generals Still in as Myanmar's Former Ruling Party Reveals Candidates for Upcoming Poll

By San Yamin Aung 12 August 2020

YANGON—Myanmar’s former ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) will field more than 1,100 candidates nationwide in the upcoming general election, including some retired military generals and ex-government ministers along with a large number of new faces.

The party rolled out its list of 1,129 candidates on Wednesday. Spokesperson Dr. Nanda Hla Myint said only a few retired military generals and ex-government ministers would be candidates this year, as the party has sought to select mostly new faces to run on its ticket.

In the 2015 general election, in which it was comprehensively defeated by the National League for Democracy (NLD), the USDP—formed by ex-generals—favored the former officers’ comrades as candidates. The then-ruling party only managed to win a humiliating 10 percent of seats nationwide, while the NLD won 77 percent of the parliamentary seats.

The USDP recently said it was confident of winning enough seats this year to secure the presidency and form a government.

In the candidates list rolled out on Wednesday, retired generals, ex-ministers and candidates who have run previously accounted for less than 30 percent, while the remainder were selected from the party’s new generation of members, Dr. Nanda Hla Myint added.

Among those candidates who have run before and are seeking to be elected again are ex-general and party chairman U Than Htay, who will run for a seat in the Lower House in Naypyitaw’s Zayarthiri Township. He served as minister of energy and minister for rail transport under the USDP-led government.

Retired general and former deputy chairman of the party U Htay Oo will seek a Lower House seat in the Irrawaddy Delta’s Hinthada Township, the same seat that he lost to an NLD candidate in 2015. Retired major general and former President’s Office minister U Hla Tun will run for a Lower House seat representing Mandalay Region’s Kyaukpadaung Township.

Retired brigadier general and former deputy speaker Nanda Kyaw Swa will contest a Lower House seat in Yangon Region’s Dagon Township. Ex-general Aung Thaw is contesting in Yangon Region’s Coco Islands constituency.

Four ex-chief ministers in the previous USDP government— former brigadier general U Thein Aung of Ayeyarwady Region, former major general U Nyan Win of Bago Region, U La John Ngan Hsai of Kachin State and U Sao Aung Myat of Shan State—will also run in the election.

Nationalist Daw Khin Waing Kyi, who was a former lawmaker representing the National Democratic Force (NDF), also appears on the USDP candidate list, contesting a Lower House seat in Yangon Region’s Dawbon Township.

Some USDP members said the party is fielding more youth and women candidates than before. They added that the party plans to avoid contesting in some strongholds of ethnic parties and smaller parties as a way of boosting those parties’ chances of success.

Myanmar’s general election will be held on Nov. 8. In the nationwide poll, 93 political parties will vie for a total of 1,171 seats in both houses of the Union Parliament and in the state and regional legislatures. The NLD plans to field 1,131 candidates.

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